Journalism student and recovering web developer
71 stories
·
4 followers

Anthropology groups organize Foucault read-in for Inauguration Day

1 Share

Many groups of scholars and writers are planning teach-ins or readings for Friday, the day Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as president of the United States. Others are organizing teach-ins to focus on Trump's policies.

Some anthropologists are taking a different approach. They are planning events that day in which people -- together at locations across the country or virtually connected -- will read and discuss a lecture presented by Michel Foucault, the late philosopher, as part of a series he gave at the Collège de France. The lectures have been published as a book, Society Must Be Defended. The read-in idea is being backed not only by the scholars who have organized the events but by the popular anthropology blog Savage Minds and the journals American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology and Environment and Society.

"This lecture strikes us as very good to think with at this present point: it demands we simultaneously consider the interplay of sovereign power, discipline, biopolitics and concepts of security, and race. In light of the current sociopolitical situation where the reaction to activism against persistent racism has been to more overtly perpetuate racism as political discourse, we need to remember and rethink the role of racism as central to, rather than incidental to, the political and economic activities of the state," wrote the two scholars who organized the effort in a blog post at Savage Minds. The scholars are Paige West, the Claire Tow Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University, and JC Salyer, term professor of practice at Barnard.

In their blog post, they note that many scholars have, since the election, suggested that it's time for intellectuals to change the way they act and engage with the public. The idea, which West and Salyer reject, "is that scholars need to somehow change what they are doing, and how they are doing it, in order to face this seemingly new political reality in the Unites States.

"While the latter part of this argument has been addressed by numerous scholars and activists who write and think about race, class, sexuality and inequality more generally -- with clear and compelling arguments about how this is not a 'new' political reality for many but rather a kind of contemporary culmination and re-entrenchment of the structures of power and oppression that underpin the entirety of the national political project -- the former part of the argument has been allowed to stand with little critique. Do we need to change what we do and not just how we do it? Not necessarily."

They elaborate: "We worry that by focusing on needing to change what we are doing and how we are doing it we lose sight of what we already do really well. We work to understand the world through research, teaching, writing and reading. Along with this, we produce knowledge that allows others to understand the world and to work to change it." Scholars engage in reading (and talking about what they read) all the time, and so that is a good way to respond to the Trump inaugural, they said.

They proposed -- and many other anthropologists are joining in -- readings of the 11th lecture in the Foucault book. PDFs of the chapter are available here.

Via email, West and Salyer said that in the days since they made their proposal, read-ins have been planned at four universities, while many others are planning to read the chapter individually and to discuss it online.

Asked about this particular lecture, they said, "We picked this reading because it has a real breadth of ideas that can be used to analyze inequality and violence in the modern nation-state. While it is certainly not the only, or even [the] best, reading that could be used to do this, it presents a lot of ideas that still seem very original, and even provocative, over 40 years later. If we had to pick one quote that challenges us to think about how we conceptualize the relationship of the modern state to people and populations it might be where Foucault is working out the paradoxical nature of the regime of biopower, which kills, or lets die, to improve life and concludes that it is through the dividing practice of racism that the state attempts to square the circle: 'I am certainly not saying that racism was invented at this time. It had already been in existence for a very long time. But I think it functioned elsewhere. It is indeed the emergence of this biopower that inscribes it in the mechanisms of the state. It is at this moment that racism is inscribed as the basic mechanism of power, as it is exercised in modern states.'"

Asked if they had any fears that supporters of Trump would mock their activity, they said, "No, of course not."

Editorial Tags: 
Image Source: 
Getty Images
Image Caption: 
Donald Trump and Michel Foucault
Is this breaking news?: 
Is this diversity newsletter?: 
Read the whole story
claudinec
34 days ago
reply
Melbourne, Australia
Share this story
Delete

Photo

2 Comments and 13 Shares


Read the whole story
claudinec
57 days ago
reply
Everywhere.
Melbourne, Australia
bluebec
58 days ago
reply
Melbourne
Share this story
Delete
1 public comment
skittone
59 days ago
reply
Yup. Let's get this one one some mugs and t-shirts.

What to Do in the Coming Days

1 Comment

This is not a blog I ever wanted to write.

Like many of you, I'd hoped for a different outcome from the U.S. election on Tuesday. I'd hoped we would not end up with a right-wing demagogue as our next president.

Yet here we are.

Many people are validly afraid of what this result means for them, for their loved ones, and for their communities. There are a lot of unknowns about how this will all play out, which only amplifies the fear so many of us feel, particularly if we or our loved ones are marginalized in any way. It's hard to brace for the oncoming wave when you're not certain of its size and shape.

As we move into the coming years, there will be a lot of work to be done. Right now, many of us are still in shock, and in damage control mode, trying to care for ourselves and for those we love.

I've seen discussion about how to talk about the outcome of this election with young people. I want to address young people directly.

I'm so proud of you; of us. Of how many of us voted against the rhetoric, the promise, of hate and fear that colored this election. Of how many of you campaigned and canvassed in the days, weeks and months before it, and how many of you rose up in protest when told that you'll be governed by someone who encapsulates the worst parts of our culture. I know many of you are afraid of what the future holds. But my god, there is so much hope in you, in us, so much readiness to push back against injustice.

All of our staff at Scarleteen come from some activist background or another. And we all belong to at least one group targeted by the rhetoric of Trump and his supporters, the majority of us to more than one. As we have done during other times of darkness, crisis or institutional nonsupport, we will be creating and sharing concrete advice and information about how to navigate sexual health issues, and others related to them, under a government that is hostile to them. But today, from us to you, here is what you can to do care for you and yours.

First and foremost you are allowed your emotions. There will be people, probably adults, who tell you that your anger and protest are pointless and silly. That they will accomplish nothing because this is just the way the world works. Be wary of this argument, especially because it's wrong. The world is what we all make and how we live in it. Resistance is crucial in the face of injustice -- and has always been the only thing that has ever changed it and made it have to answer for itself -- and anger is part of that. The arc of the universe may indeed bend towards justice, but often you have to hammer on it to help it bend that way.

Likewise, if you're saddened or frightened, you are allowed to feel that way too. Some truly hateful things were said and done during this election, and it is not foolishness to fear that there is more hate to come. But as much as you can, try not to let that fear rule you. Even if you're not sure of your own ability to push back against whatever awfulness may come, there are others, young and old, who have already promised to do so. Take comfort from that if you can.

I also strongly recommend you take time to disconnect from social media, the 24 hour news cycle, and the internet as a whole. Are those spaces powerful tools of connection, organization, and information? Of course. But right now they are also echo chambers of people's very raw emotions. While it can be useful to see others feeling as you feel, it can also trap you in a loop of directionless anger and panic, which is draining. So back away from the screen, as much as you can. Go outside if you can, into nature if at all possible. Or find a quiet space to meditate or pray. If you have a pet, sit and play with them. Go to a library and read children's books or books about weird birds. Do anything you can to pull yourself away from the cacophony of emotion and bad news and to a place where you can find some semblance of peace.

Likewise, if soaking in the bad ways you feel feels more right, and more like what you need than doing things to influence your emotions towards the positive, that is just as okay. It's okay to be in your feelings, even when they are awful, and sticking with hard feelings for a while, rather than seeking soothing, is how some people process them. Our executive director has been unable to sleep, and one of the things they've done in the wee hours is watching horror movies, because horror and fear is what they have been feeling, and anything else simply doesn't feel true to them right now.

Going along with taking time away from the news, self-care is also important right now. Your unhappiness and exhaustion will not fix the ills of the world, no matter how much you might wish it could. And more than that, we want every last one of you reading this to get through the next few weeks, months, and years. Here is our basic guide to self-care, and here's another lovely one. Here is a masterlist of calming resources.

Whatever you need to do to help you focus on your well-being, to care for yourself, to make it feel like the world is not coming down around you, I encourage you to do it. Exercising, cooking a nice meal, or doing your nails while watching cartoons won't fix what's going on. But you deserve moments of joy and calm, as well as the experience of having at least some of what feels like life as you knew it before, and making time for them will help you stay in an okay place emotionally and mentally.

In addition to caring for yourself, it can be incredibly healing to care for each other and be kind. In a world flooded with hatred, with suspicion of anyone who is different from you, there is immense power in kindness and gentleness to other humans. Reach out to people you care about, especially if they're in targeted communities. Ask what you can do to help them and support them, even if it's just listening to them or giving them a hug. And if you're hurting, if you're afraid, try to ask for what you need. If you can, surround yourself with people who care about you, and for whom you care. Love does not solve everything, but it makes a strong buffer around the awful aspects of the world.

There is power, too, in acts of kindness to those you don't know. In the last few days, a lot of people have donated to causes they believe in or to local charities. Or they've looked for chances to volunteer with organizations they care about. Helping others, even in small ways, can make you feel as though you can make a positive difference in the world. If you can't, for whatever reason, donate time or resources to a cause, you can do your best to be kind to people you interact with, be they service staff, coworkers, etc. It may not always feel like it, but gentleness when the world would rather you be hardened is a form of resistance.

You may also find it helpful to foster connection and community. If nothing else, connecting with your fellow humans will make you less like a single grain of sand facing a tidal wave. It serves as a reminder that, if you choose to work against injustice, you do not do so alone.

If you're already involved in community organizations, do what you can to reach out to other groups and form coalitions. If your organization is mostly made up of people with privilege, now is the time to talk about what you can do to stand up for the members of your community who are likely to be targeted in the coming years. And talk about what can you do now as a community, or group of communities, as damage control in the fall-out of this election. Sometimes, that action can be as simple as saying to LGBTQA, Muslim, African American, Latinx, women's and disabled communities, "We are here for you, we are ready to help you, and if things get rough we will have your back. What do you need?"

That focus on building community on a local level can also help you look to the bright spots, few though they may be, of this election. For instance, Arizona voted out a sadistic sheriff and women of color made historic victories. Hillary Clinton also did get the popular vote: more people voted for her than for Trump. These things may feel insignificant in the face of so many people voting for Trump, and supporting what he stands for, but they tell us something. They tell us that there are still plenty of people who want to push forwards as a country, people who do not buy into bigoted rhetoric. And if those smaller victories can be made, larger ones are still possible. That even if the national level is about to be one giant trash-fire, local politics can still push in enlightened directions.

Finally, have courage.

I know that sounds corny, but I firmly believe it is true. For some of you, that courage will be needed to simply survive the next four years. That is an immense victory, though I wish it was not a battle you'd ever have to face. For those who have the ability to do so, courage will be needed to resist injustice in ways large and small. That will not be easy, and those efforts will not always succeed. But if those who take power decide to strip away rights from LGBTQA communities or Muslim communities, if they or their followers threaten the safety of Latinx or Black communities, we will need to stand up, to keep fighting. We will need to bolster courage in ourselves and in each other.

Courage, right now, may feel incredibly out of reach. But I would not be championing it if I didn't believe it (I'm no fan of bullshit in times of crisis). Our greatest strength as humans is to come together when the time calls for it. To care for those who need it, to fight for those who are vulnerable. To love each other, to exist, resist, and thrive in the face of ideologies that tell us we cannot. We have that potential inside of us. We will face whatever comes and we will help each other through it. We will overcome.

I see the response to Trump's election from you who are younger than me. I see in you that most magnificent of refusals: that you don't believe the ideology of Trump is the best we can expect from our country and from each other. And that gives me courage.

We, Scarleteen, have been around for almost two decades before this election. We will be around after it. We will keep doing what we do.

To those of you who are survivors, who are queer, who are women, who are Muslim, who are of color, who are disabled, who are already poor, to anyone who is now looking at the future with fear:

We love you. And we will stand by you.

Read the whole story
claudinec
95 days ago
reply
Wisdom from Scarleteen.
Melbourne, Australia
Share this story
Delete

How To Show Up Now

1 Comment

You can be a helper, too

YouTube

There’s a quote from Mr. Rogers that gets passed around after national tragedies occur. It’s the one about something his mother said to him when he was little. Here it is in case you haven’t seen it:

It’s a uniformly uplifting and helpful attitude. “Look for the helpers.” Focus on progress. But the work doesn’t end when you get that rush of comfort from seeing someone else do something decent—or at least it shouldn’t. Because the work isn’t just to feel relief in a time of crisis, it’s to be the help that someone else may need, too.

This election has been extremely polarizing. It’s dredged up a lot of divisive and buzzy talking points that have pitted a lot of Americans against each other, but I’d love to invite you to just… not today. Or this week. Or this month. This blows—across the board, whether everyone realizes it or not—and now more than ever we’re faced with the responsibility to show up for one another in ways that are actually, gravely meaningful. Will our social programs be in-tact in the coming years? Our education system? Healthcare? One way to counteract that worry, even if the government seems terrifying right now, is to serve your community at an individual level.

Specifically, I’m talking about volunteering. Low-level, consistent involvement and contribution might not feel like a ton in the face of actual racism, misogyny and hate rhetoric, but it’s the level of work where things actually get done on a day to day basis, and it’s also a way to serve the groups left most vulnerable by our current political situation. It’s also a way to fight how knotted up your stomach might feel right now if you’re anything like me.

This is by no means a definitive list, but here are the names of some places to get your brain going. First, some nationwide options. People always have their critiques of big organizations like this, but even if you do some researching and decide the brand name I’m suggesting isn’t the one for you, in a lot of cases there will be smaller local organizations with these same causes at heart. Pick one of those you like better instead:

  • The Human Rights Campaign’s volunteer-led events and activities are focused on “engaging lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people and our allies, educating the public and raising funds necessary to support the important work of HRC locally and nationally.”
  • Planned Parenthood is probably going to have a wild couple years ahead of them!
  • The Red Cross addresses all kind of emergency community needs. “Whether it’s aiding one family displaced by a fire, assisting thousands affected by a hurricane or other natural disaster, or providing support to military members and their families, our vital work is made possible by our volunteers.”
  • Islamic Relief USA focuses on offering “relief and development in a dignified manner regardless of gender, race, or religion,” and works to “empower individuals in their communities and give them a voice in the world.”
  • YMCA/YWCA: volunteers at the more than 10,000 locations nationwide coach sports teams, mentor, and raise the funds that ultimately meet community needs like childcare and children’s programming.
  • Best Buddies is a nonprofit “dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
  • Your local: library, hospital, youth center, homeless shelter, women’s shelter, animal shelter, lgbtq center, food pantry, community garden, arts center, church, assisted living community.

Now, some local options in New York City:

  • The Anti-Violence Project “empowers lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence” and focuses on “organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy.”
  • The Lower Eastside Girls Club aims to “break the cycle of local poverty by training the next generation of ethical, entrepreneurial and environmental leaders” with “mentoring, wellness, arts, academic support and career training” programming, all of which is free to the kids and their families.
  • Art Start offers programming to kids who are living in “city shelters, on the streets, are involved in court cases, or surviving with parents in crisis.” They offer daily creative arts workshops with local teaching artists and educators who donate their time.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are services like VolunteerMatch out there to help you find opportunities based on your zipcode, plus whatever community outreach your employer or school is up to. Or in the event that volunteering seems too intense right now, you also have the option of donating to someplace like the ACLU or Immigration Equality.

This blows. It’s bad. A lot of our communities are feeling strained and scared after today, and rightfully so. But the one thing you’re still in control of is whether or not you’re the helper someone else is trying to spot. You can still show up, if you want.


How To Show Up Now was originally published in The Awl on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Read the whole story
claudinec
101 days ago
reply
Looks like useful advice for those in the US.
Melbourne, Australia
Share this story
Delete

Writers, Start Writing, and Other News

1 Comment

“Knowledge will break the chains of slavery,” a propaganda poster from 1920s Russia. Russia

  • This site is dedicated to literature, arts, and culture. Electoral politics are usually beyond our remit. On a morning like this, when America has chosen a bigot and a xenophobe as its next president, my job feels pointless. But I don’t want to add to the chorus of despair, because I do believe there’s a role for art at a time like this, and I don’t say that lightly—words like these don’t come easily to me. I would rather make fun of things, and I’m struggling against an inborn fatalism. (My iPhone just reminded me to water my plants, and I thought, why bother?) The creative impulse is such a fragile thing, but we have to create now. We owe it to ourselves to do the work. I want to encourage you. If you aspire to write, put aside all the niceties and sureties about what art should be and write something that makes the scales fall from our eyes. Forget the tired axioms about showing and telling, about sense of place—any possible obstruction—and write to destroy complacency, to rattle people, to help people, first and foremost yourself. Lodge your ideas like glass shards in the minds of everyone who would have you believe there’s no hope. And read, as often and as violently as you can. If you have friends, as I do, who tacitly believe that it’s too much of a chore to read a book, just one fucking book, from start to finish, smash every LCD they own. This is an opportunity. There’s too much at stake now to pretend that everything is okay. 

  • And Ben Fountain, a few days before the election, offered a stern reminder of all that’s been undone since the days of the New Deal—the many ways conservatism has degraded our social contract. “Forty years of well-funded, highly organized laissez-faire proselytizing and government-bashing have done a number on the American mind. The country got conned by a profound ideological shift, starting in the early 1970s as hardcore free market, antigovernment free-market, anti-government advocates launched a concerted effort to change the political landscape … When faced with this sort of nonsense, one can’t help but think of the little boy who declares independence from his family, and runs away as far as the tree house in his backyard. The worldview of Thiel and company is about as juvenile as that, a kind of nerdy romanticism that recalls the capitalist fantasies of Ayn Rand. If not for the collective (Randians break out in hives when they encounter that word) efforts of American society, the industry in which tech moguls have so fantastically prospered wouldn’t exist.”

The post Writers, Start Writing, and Other News appeared first on The Paris Review.

Read the whole story
claudinec
101 days ago
reply
Now, as ever, we need literature.
Melbourne, Australia
Share this story
Delete

Two Cultures: a forum on global cultural collaborations with art & science

1 Comment

Venue: Yasuko Hiraoka Myer Room, Sidney Myer Asia Centre

Asialink Arts (AA) in partnership with The Carlton Connect Initiative (CCI) present this one-day forum focused on sharing ideas, experiences and interrogating the role of art in science.

Science and scientific ideas have long inspired art and artists, from Leonardo DaVinci and Picasso, to Turner and Kandinsky. In harnessing the scientific zeitgeist of their times to the making of their art, they showed how scientific ideas can inspire great art. So in some sense, this is nothing new: science is simply part of a larger cultural discourse with which art can engage. The 1980s saw a significant numbers of artists work in biological related concepts and materials, and today advancements and technology are shifting faster than ever.

The forum title is drawn from the seminal and somewhat controversial C.P.Snow publication The Two Cultures from 1959 originally presented as a Cambridge University Rede Lecture. Its thesis was that "the intellectual life of the whole of western society" was split into the titular two cultures — namely the sciences and the humanities — and that this was a major hindrance to solving the world's problems. So what has become of this theory nearly six decades on? By exploring the evolving world of art, science and technology, we must ask how the contemporary artist can engage meaningfully with scientific researchers and vice versa?

Join some of the Australia’s most innovative thinkers operating across the two cultures as we discuss the aim of this art and science movement, and what we hope to gain from this brave new world.

Read the whole story
claudinec
109 days ago
reply
The two culture divide is still a thing.
Melbourne, Australia
Share this story
Delete
Next Page of Stories